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Càcerces, Extremadura, Spain (1326)


Traditionally Approved

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Our Lady of Guadalupe of Extremadura

  Our Lady of Guadalupe of Extremadura  


Legend says that in 1326, near the Guadalupe river in Cacerces, Spain, cowherd Gil Cordero experienced an apparition of the Virgin Mary who directed him to a miraculous buried statue given to Spain from Pope Gregory the Great.



August 5, 352

Our Lady of the Snows appeared and with an outline of snow requested that on a church (later known as the Basilica of St. Mary Major) be built on Esquiline Hill in Rome.


Pope St. Gregory the Great housed a miraculous Madonna statue in the Basilica. He paraded the statue from St. Mary's through the streets of rubble-strewn Rome to rid the city of an epidemic. The madonna was of unstained Oriental wood that, in its dignified countenance and in its majestic demeanor resembled the Virgin of Saragossa.

Upon proceeding through Rome with the image, an apparition of an angel had been seen above a mausoleum near the current-day site of the Vatican, and the plague stopped. [1]

And after he used it in Rome, Pope Gregory sent the image as a gift to to Saint Leander, Bishop of Seville, in gratitude for converting the Visigothic kings, Saint Hermengild and Recared. Spain at that time was under assault by Arab invaders.


The statue had to be hidden from the Moslems, who destroyed all Christian images. The faithful chose to hide the statue in a remote cave, this time under a church bell or in an iron casket (accounts differ) in the province of Caceres on the plain of Extremadura near a river known as Guadalupejo (now Guadalupe) which in the local dialect of this Spanish hinterland meant "hidden channel."


The Virgin Mary appeared in an apparition to a humble cowherd named Gil Cordero, who had been searching for a lost cow. Cordero found the cow on a mound of stones, but it was motionless, as if dead. Cordero was ready to cut off its hide when suddenly the cow miraculously sprang up. Cordero was stunned. The animal was alive! But more spectacular still was the apparition of a woman who Cordero spotted coming from the woods.


When Cordero did as he was told, telling the local authorities to dig for a statue, he was initially mocked. After all, he was only a simple shepherd with a wild story. But when Cordero insisted on the apparition and showed them the marks on his cow where he was beginning to strip its hide, the noblemen and clerics began to listen. And soon they were proceeding to the site, where they dug at the designated spot and, removing stones and other debris, found the cave and inside it the bell with an ancient document explaining its origin. It was proved to be the image Gregory the Great had sent to Spain. (Also buried there were the relics of Saint Fulgentius and Saint Florentina.)


A hut was hastily built and a humble altar of stone was mounded. Soon that was replaced by a chapel, the bell melted and mixed with other metal to form two bells which called the faithful to prayer and were rung during severe storms to preserve the crops. A subsequent and enlarged shrine was attended by dignitaries from many parts of Europe.


Alfonso XI, King of Castile and León, became one of the first regular pilgrims to Guadalupe. King Alfonso XI wanted to expand the chapel of Guadalupe into a church and monastery, but he died in 1350, so it was completed by Juan I of Castile. King Juan I entrusted the shrine to the Hieronymites, Order of Saint Jerome. The Monastery maintained its royal patronage until 1835, when Church properties were seized and religious orders dispersed in Spain during the First Carlist War.


Christopher Columbus is said to have prayed in front of the image of Guadalupe before setting out across the Atlantic for the New World. Some accounts say he even carried a replica of the wood statue with him. He would later name an island in the West Indes "Guadaloupe". After Columbus reached America in 1492 he returned to the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe to give thanks to God, through the intercession of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who had granted him a safe voyage.

Dec 12, 1531

In Mexico, the Aztecs worshipped a stone ‘"serpent god’" that demanded human sacrifice. During an apparition in Mexico in 1531, when asked her name by St. Juan Diego, at the request of the local bishop, Our Lady's response, in the Aztec language, included the words ‘"te coatlaxopeuh’" (pronounced: ‘"te quatlasupe’") and meant “one who crushes the head of the stone serpent.’" To Juan Diego and his fellow Aztecs, this revelation had great meaning, coupled with the miraculous image of Our Lady standing on top of a ‘"crescent,’" the symbol of this evil serpent god. However, Bishop Juan de Zumarraga, who was from Spain mistook the Aztec name of ‘"Te Quatlasupe’" sounded just like the name of the revered Madonna from Spain with the Islamic name, ‘"Guadalupe.’" Hence, the bishop named the Mexican Madonna ‘"Our Lady of Guadalupe."


The Virgin of Guadalupe was canonically crowned and declared the Patroness of Extremadura.


Our Lady’s patronage was extended to the entire Spanish-speaking world.


Pope Pius XII declared the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe a minor papal basilica.

Description of the Virgin

The Virgin appeared as a woman "of marvelous beauty" who spoke in a kind supernal voice.


"Have no fear, for I am the Mother of God, by whom the human race achieved redemption," the Virgin told Cordero. "Go to your home and tell the clergy and other people to come to this place where I appear to you and dig here, where they will find a statue."


There was no official Church investigation into the apparitions but receives traditional or implicit approval from the Church. Many diginitaries , including Christopher Columbus, are said to have prayed in front of the image in Spain. Our Lady is venerated throughout Spain and Mexico (apparitions of 1531) under the title "Our Lady of Guadalupe".

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated in Spain on September 8th.


The shrine of Guadalupe is a stunning complex of five main structures: the Mudejar cloister, the Gothic cloister, the Plateresque portal, the church building itself, which dates back to 1730 and was designed by one of Christopher Columbus’ descendants, and a painting and sculpture museum that houses works by many of Spain’s finest artists.

Books and Videos

Cruz, Joan Carroll (1993). "Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Status". Tan Books and Publishers. pp 407-408


AS 'GUADALUPE'. Spirit Michael H. Brown. Retrieved 2007-08-08.

OF ONE IN SPAIN"., Michael H. Brown. Retrieved 2009-12-14.

3 Cruz, Joan Carroll (1993). "Miraculous Images of Our Lady: 100 Famous Catholic Portraits and Statues". Tan Books and Publishers. pp 407-408

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